Environmental Engineering Reference
In-Depth Information
In the Renaissance , man was considered to be at the center of the universe.
He held himself to be ruler of the surrounding world, which he thought he
could model according to his needs, and conform it to his taste. In successive
centuries, possibilities of “controlling” reality have been effected through ever
more subtle and sophisticated, but less concrete, methods. The Enlightenment
thought it could maintain control through reason; Romanticism through emo-
tion. The beginning of the 18th century placed man at the center of an obser-
vation system that privileged the subject; spatial centrality decreased and the
self-referential centrality of the observer was favored. With the arrival of net-
works, the virtual world definitively surpassed the real world and contacts
were developed despite geographical distances [25]. Territorial limitations dis-
appeared. Communication became ever more widespread between basically
similar groups sharing the same principles and cultivating the same interests,
rather than between spatially close groups. From the geographical/territorial
point of view, the effects are notable. If proximity is no longer an essential
requirement to maintain social relationships [26], connections are tightened,
contacts are started, and agreements are interwoven above and beyond the lim-
its of one's own living environment 8 . The concept of neighborhood disappears,
and with it, contiguous, peripheral, and contextual areas, and processes of set-
tlement diffusion are consequently developed.
It is difficult to say if urban dispersion , mentioned many times in this vol-
ume, is the cause or the consequence of the phenomenon of network affirma-
tion. The fact is that a close interweaving subsists between the two dynamics.
On the one hand, the phenomenon of sprawl is identified through the urbaniza-
tion of extensive rural areas close to the city; on the other, through the loss of
proximity and the consequent growth of other forms of community, social, and
support networks, which are often not visible at first glance. Certainly, these
last items are forms of contact that lead to deep connections, well beyond the
relationships between traditional centralities.
Environmental networks, while conceptually maintaining their physicality,
trigger in this virtual system contacts between the city and a context that is
indefinite and indefinable. The process of “scattering” the city throughout the
country and the related degradation of extended portions of the ex-urban ter-
ritory , which is losing its distinctive elements and its rural society relational
methods, favor directing new attention at reinventing contacts between the city
and the country. Environmental infrastructures in Europe are also being devel-
oped in this biocultural perspective, where contact between the city and the
territory, as has already been experimented in some North American contexts,
assumes a denser and more complex meaning that integrates nature and city,
8 Naturally, as Bordoni C. notes in op. cit., 2009, loss of proximity is not only due to geographi-
cal causes, such as the displacement of social strata from the center to the suburbs due to the
effects of changes in economic conditions, rent increases, or urban revolutions. The reasons, as
always, are many, and when they all merge in the same direction, they cause tangible conse-
quences: in this case, loss of proximity is also linked to loss of work.
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